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The MCHC Blood Test Explained

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you want to learn more about the MCHC blood test. Let’s talk about it in greater detail.

MCHC stands for Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration. This blood test measures hemoglobin concentration in red blood cells.

If your hemoglobin levels are too low, it can lead to weakness, fatigue, and more. This is also known as anemia.

What’s a Normal MCHC Blood Test Range?

If your hemoglobin levels dip too low, then your body will struggle to deliver oxygen throughout the body. A normal range is 32-36 grams/deciliter.

If your blood test results show a lower concentration, then it means you’re suffering from hypochromia.

Hypochromia is something that is often found in people with iron deficiency. The opposite of hypochromia is hyperchromia. As its name implies, this is when your MCHC is higher than the normal range.

If you have a low MCHC, then this means that your red blood cells aren’t packing as much hemoglobin as they should. In many cases, this can mean something called iron-deficiency anemia.

How Are MCHC Blood Tests Performed?

The MCHC blood test is a relatively common blood test that doctors perform to determine overall health.

Even if there is no suspicion of disease, your doctor still may perform it. It can be used to test for signs of anemia and infection.

MCHC Blood Test

The MCHC blood test is just like any other blood test as far as blood drawing is concerned.

Here’s how it works: Your blood will be drawn into a tube that contains an anticoagulant. Then, using a Coulter counter, it will be analyzed. The latter step is typically automated.

What Causes Iron-Deficiency Anemia?

If your MCHC blood test shows that you have iron-deficiency anemia, you might be wondering what causes it. There are two main reasons why it happens:

  • Not getting enough iron in your diet
  • Inability to absorb/utilize dietary iron

Over time, chronically low iron levels can lead to a low MCHC. People will low blood iron levels will often complain about being tired and/or short of breath all the time.

They may also look pale, as well as feel physically weak.

What About a High MCHC Level?

If the MCHC blood test reads more than 36-grams per deciliter, then this means that it’s too high. In this case, it could be the result of something called spherocytosis.

This is caused by having a high concentration of spherocytes in the body.

A microscopic view of spherocytosis.

What is a spherocyte? It’s basically an RBC (red blood cell) that contains an overly high amount of hemoglobin.

What causes it?

A common cause is not getting enough folic acid (a vitamin). It’s also possible that you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 or that your body isn’t absorbing it efficiently.

How to Improve Your MCHC Levels

The good news is that there are ways to improve your MCHC levels. But first, you need to determine the cause of your low count. Here’s a list of treatments based on specific causes:

  • Cancer: In some cases, a low MCHC reading can be a cause of cancer. If this is the cause, you’ll need specialized treatment in a hospital.
  • Drugs: If your low reading is due to a specific drug, then you’ll want to talk with your doctor about alternative medications.
  • Diet: In many cases, a low reading on a MCHC blood test is due to not getting enough iron in the diet. You’ll need to eat more iron-rich foods.

The average adult should get about 10 milligrams of iron per day. If you get less than this amount, then you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of developing anemia.

If you’re a vegan/vegetarian, be extra attentive about your iron levels. The reason is because many plant-based foods lack sufficient dietary iron. Below are a list of foods that are high in iron.

Iron-Rich Foods

Here are some iron-rich foods that you can try:

  • Beans
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Red Meat
  • Spinach
  • Raisins
  • Peas

Additionally, you can eat foods that are fortified with iron, including cereals, pasta, bread, and some orange juice brands.

Remember that plant-based sources of iron don’t absorb as efficiently as animal-based sources. If you’re getting your iron primary from plants, make sure that you’re increasing your iron intake.

Why?

To get the same amount of iron as meat eaters. If your MCHC blood test levels are still low after making dietary changes, you may need to supplement.

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